Utilities inside state face liability under what’s known as inverse condemnation as well as for negligence claims for wildfire in addition to some other damaging incidents caused by such things as power lines or some other utility equipment.
“California will be one of the only states inside country where the courts have applied inverse condemnation liability to events caused by utility equipment,” Geisha Williams, CEO in addition to president of PG&E, told investors on its conference call in November. “We don’t believe of which inverse condemnation will be an appropriate doctrine, nor do we think the idea will be appropriately applied to regulated utilities.”
In Southern California, several of the major utilities, including Edison in addition to SDG&E, have installed networks of remote weather stations to monitor real-time weather such as strong wind gusts of which can sometimes approach hurricane-force strength. They can provide critical information not always available coming from government-owned weather stations since many are in mountainous or remote areas.
“They hold the weather stations of which they can basically target where the high winds are, or where the computer products say high winds will come,” said UC-Berkeley’s Stewart. “So when a canyon or some other area has high winds, they can shut the power down in a very modest part of the grid. They don’t shut down power to whole counties.”
SDG&E has invested in more weather stations following costly litigation involving wildfires.
The Sempra subsidiary has paid out more than $2 billion in settlements in addition to some other costs following deadly wildfires in 2007 in San Diego County, although the idea didn’t admit any liability. A Cal Fire probe indicated SDG&E’s power lines caused three fires, which together destroyed 1,300 homes in addition to claimed two lives.
Edison power lines of which fell in high winds were linked to a Malibu Canyon fire in 2007. The state reached a settlement with Edison in addition to a telecom company of which shared the several poles for their role inside fire.